Submitted to: Journal of Animal Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: June 16, 2010
Publication Date: October 12, 2010
Citation: Reuter, R., Carroll, J.A., Hulbert, L.E., Dailey, J.W., Galyean, M. 2010. Technical note: Development of a self-contained, indwelling rectal temperature probe for cattle research. Journal of Animal Science. 88:3291-3295. Interpretive Summary: A collaborative effort was undertaken by scientists from the Livestock Issues Research Unit, the Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation, and Texas Tech University to develop an indwelling rectal temperature probe that could be used in cattle that were group housed or individually penned. Commercial cattle producers use rectal temperature to assist in diagnosis and treatment of disease in cattle, particularly bovine respiratory disease, and to aid in detecting estrus in cows. Rectal temperature is used almost exclusively by commercial producers, most likely because relatively simple, durable, and inexpensive equipment can be used to measure rectal temperature with a reasonable degree of accuracy. However, we have experienced several problems with measuring rectal temperature in research with cattle. These problems involved potential errors in our measurements resulting from handling cattle, labor requirements to obtain traditional rectal temperature measurements with thermometers, and the lack of ability to measure rectal temperature at short time intervals (i.e. < 30 min). To address these problems, we developed a device to automate measuring rectal temperature in cattle. Use of this automated rectal temperature monitoring device in cattle research will enable more frequent sampling of rectal temperature while also decreasing labor requirements and will also decrease error introduced by human handling of cattle to obtain measurements. This device should prove useful in many types of cattle research, including environmental stress in confined and extensive settings, receiving cattle health and management research, and reproductive research in cows. Additional development and refinement of the concept may allow for increased durability and retention, further decreases in cost, and real-time wireless data transmission. These developments would increase the number and usefulness of research and commercial applications that might be possible with the device.
Technical Abstract: A device was developed to automatically monitor rectal temperature (RT) of cattle for application in research settings. Compared with manual measurement of rectal temperature, this device decreases labor and time requirements, and allows data collection without the influence of animal handling or restraint. The device consists of a custom-fabricated aluminum tail harness that supports an indwelling rectal temperature data logger. Materials cost approximately $300 U.S. per unit and units are completely reuseable. Use of this device would increase the conditions for which accurate RT measurements can be obtained in experiments with cattle.